February 2, 2015 / ROV

Scientists who drilled through 740 meters of Antarctic ice on January 15 were stunned to find fish and other marine animals living on the seafloor underneath. The team was expecting to find nothing but microbial life when they lowered the remotely operated vehicle (ROV) known as Deep SCINI through the Ross Ice Shelf in the west of Antarctica.

The Ross Ice Shelf is a glacial ice shelf approximately the size of France that juts out from the coast of Antarctica. When scientists from the WISSARD (Whillans Ice Stream Subglacial Access Research Drilling) team decided to investigate what lay beneath the shelf, they considered the conditions to be too harsh to support anything more than a few microorganisms.

However, when Deep SCINI reached the ocean floor below the shelf, it was able to record several species of fish and other invertebrates on camera, in some cases managing to capture high definition images. Some of the best included photos of a long-bodied, translucent fish with black eyeballs whose internal organs are visible as reddish-brown blobs inside its body. The scientists also recovered an amphipod, a crustacean distantly related to the shrimp, with a short, rounded body and translucent legs.

Deep SCINI was specially designed for this type of use. Its long, skinny form is perfect for sliding down boreholes in thick layers of ice, and its extremely pressure-resistant "eyes" are made from sapphire crystal. It also has a grabbing arm and water-sampling tools that it uses to bring specimens back to the scientists on the surface.

For anyone operating an ROV in extreme conditions like these, ROV insurance is critical to allow operators to quickly afford any necessary repairs. Contact Fisk Marine Insurance for more information today. 

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